“Don’t listen to what they’re saying. Focus on what you can control, and do the best you can.”
That’s basically what Washington Redskins veteran quarterback Alex Smith told rookie QB Dwayne Haskins, as he offered the time-tested advice to the young play-caller who has seen his NFL career get off to a slow start.
Through his first four chances at live-action, Haskins has two garbage-time touchdowns and five interceptions, with less than 500 yards passing. He’s also yet to see a win yet, which can be extremely frustrating for a young player who has excelled at every level of football in his career. It’s not surprising to hear that wear on a player.
“It’s hard as a rookie quarterback, being a first-round pick with the expectations,” Alex Smith said, via Redskins.com. “You’re inherently thrust into a leadership position. Nobody affects the game more than the quarterback. The entire team, the entire organization is trusting you not only to make great decisions but be accurate with the football, to be on time. These are split-second things.”
So far, Haskins has struggled to uphold his end of the trust-bargain, but a lot of the blame can be spread throughout the rest of the roster and the organization as a whole. So far in his rookie season, he’s seen his head coach get fired, his two top tight ends — which is arguably the most important position for a young QB — miss significant time, and his defense allow over 25 points per game. It would be difficult for even a veteran QB to overcome those obstacles, let alone a rookie who started just one season in college.
“This has always been my message to Dwayne: ‘I think you need to focus on what is really important, and that’s playing well,’” Smith said. “Preparing himself to go play, don’t worry about the rest of the noise. In fact, eliminate it. Try to eliminate as much of the outside noise as possible. Because all your teammates really care about is going out and executing.”
Week by week, we’ve seen Haskins show small improvements, and they finally manifested themselves into some points last Sunday. As time goes on, he’s shown that he can take some steps forward. He just needs to focus on what he can do to get better, and nothing else.